FORT SMITH – Second-grade teacher Elizabeth Parker was greeted with cheers when she was honored as 2008 Milken Family Foundation National Educator during a surprise assembly at Cavanaugh Elementary School this morning. As part of the award, Parker received an unrestricted financial prize of $25,000.
Arkansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Ken James and Gov. Mike Beebe presented the award to Parker along with Gary Stark, a past winner of the award there to represent the Milken Family Foundation.
“The Milken National Educator Award is one of the finest recognitions available to teachers and is not one easily earned,” Dr. James said. “The individuals who win this award inspire not only their students to achieve higher levels of success, but also their fellow educators.”
Parker, recognized by supervisors and colleagues as an outstanding literacy educator, has been a teacher since 1995. “Beth is a teacher leader who constantly researches best teaching practices to better help her students achieve academic success in her classroom and to assist fellow teachers with curriculum and instructional questions,” Cavanaugh principal Hank Needham wrote in nominating Parker for the award.
Up to 80 educators across the country are being recognized for their outstanding work with the awards at surprise ceremonies this fall. In addition to the cash prizes, all Milken National Educators will be recognized at a national gala and awards ceremony in the spring. National Educator Award winners also become members of the Milken Educator Network, a coalition of educators who provide expert resources and serve as partners to network members and policymakers as they help cultivate and expand innovative programs in their classrooms, schools and districts.
Milken Family Foundation Chairman and Co-founder Lowell Milken created these awards in 1985 to recognize, celebrate and attract the highest caliber school professionals. Since the program’s inception, more than $56 million in cash prizes have been awarded to 2,300-plus educators. In Arkansas, the Foundation has awarded $1.6 million to 64 recipients since the program began.